Gifts for architects 2012

It seems this year, the holiday shopping season came a bit early. I want to say it started a week before Thanksgiving. I know the outdoor holiday market in Union Square was set up and operating the weekend before people filled themselves with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. And as with every holiday shopping, people are scrambling to find that gift fitting of the person they’re giving.

I know I haven’t posted much to my blog but ever since I started La Femme Architecte, I’ve put together a list of gift ideas for architects for the holiday season. It’s become an annual tradition, and something I look forward to putting forth because I enjoy the search and I have fun writing it.

When I was a little girl, my mom bought me a memory game. I didn’t think much of it at first but ended up loving it and enjoyed the challenge. Of course, exercising the memory is not just children’s play. Memory games are fun and useful for all ages. Here’s a memory game that features architecture. It’s a great way to unwind after a grueling day in the office. And let’s not forget there are many architects who have families with children of their own. This would make a great activity for the architect and their child/children to share and bond over. Warning: this may lead children to a path of a career in architecture.

memory game

I did not have a dollhouse growing up. What I did have was a child sized bookshelf that my dad built, which I played with as a dollhouse. You can imagine that each shelf was a floor in the house and the spaces between books created the rooms.

modernist dollhouse

Many of you are already familiar with Lego’s Architecture series. I personally have recorded a set yet but I would love one of the Villa Savoye. I’ve also had the pleasure of visiting this modern home while studying abroad in France.

villa savoye lego

A classmate highly recommended this book, and I am highly recommending it to you now. It’s a fascinating read of the famous dome in Florence. The description of the period and the accounts of the events that occurred places you there as the dome was executed.


I happened upon these while at a bookshop and thought these would make fun and useful stocking stuffers.

Most of us in the industry are practicing with computers and using advanced software to generate complex drawings and sexy renderings. However, there are still some architects who continue to draw by hand and with a pencil; typically a mechanical pencil. Along with a packaged present of a sketchbook and a mechanical pencil or lead holder, add an eraser or erasers like these shaped as buildings!

Or for the architect who has to have the latest tech gadget that plugs into a USB port, why not stuff their stockings with these building shaped USB ports?

And if you’d like more ideas, take a look at previous posts for gift suggestions here, or here, and here.


Gifts for the Architect

Now that we are fast approaching the holiday season, you may be wondering what to give as a gift to that architect you know and like. There are many architects out there; all with different sensibilities, tastes, quirks, and interests.

I’ve compiled a list of suggestions that may help you find the right gift for that friend who’s either an architect, student of architecture, or in the architectural profession. There’s no such thing as the perfect gift with an architect.


For the architect who has wall to wall shelving of books, and has no time to read; or who has an empty coffee table. Here are some recommendations with pretty pictures of contemporary architecture that is sure to inspire.

Tiny Houses by Mimi Zeiger, is a 7″ x 7″ hardcover collection of tiny houses; no bigger than 1,000 square feet!

“With “McMansions” increasingly giving way to “tiny” houses, the desire to downsize and be more ecologically and economically prudent is a concept many are beginning to embrace. Focusing on dwelling spaces all under 1,000 square feet, TINY HOUSES (Rizzoli, April 2009) by Mimi Zeiger aims to challenge readers to take a look at their own homes and consider how much space they actively use.
Ranging from tree houses to floating houses, TINY HOUSES features an international collection of over thirty modular and prefab homes, each one embodying “microgreen living”, defined as the creation of tiny homes where people challenge themselves to live “greener” lives. By using a thoughtful application of green living principles, renewable resources for construction, and clever ingenuity, these homes exemplify sustainable living at its best.”

book description from Rizzoli

For the architect who has joined the “green” bandwagon.

Green Architecture Now! by Philip Jodidio is a soft cover collection of contemporary sustainable architecture.

“The ecological impact of new construction, once a secondary concern, has become a crucial issue. Badly designed buildings guzzle natural resources and pollute their surroundings; in an era of rocketing energy costs and environmental degradation, the need for a sustainable, energy-efficient architecture is paramount. This book features the architects, artists and firms pioneering a new green architecture, and examines the emergent esthetics.”

book description from TASCHEN

For the architect who loves Le Corbusier, here is the biggest book published of the great modernist architect.

Le Corbusier Le Grand published by Phaidon.

“Le Corbusier (1887-1965) was born Charles-Edouard Jeanneret in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. The self-named Le Corbusier was not only the creator of some of the most important and impressive buildings of the last century–Villa Savoye at Poissy, the Chapel of Notre-Dame-du-Haut at Ronchamp, the capitol complex in Chandigarh, India–he was also an accomplished painter, sculptor, furniture designer, urbanist, and author. His work and social theories continue to be a dominant force in the world of architecture and design, while his elegant bearing, bow tie, and round black eyeglasses are still today a signature look for architects around the world. Le Corbusier Le Grand’s oversized format and luxurious binding reflect the legendary status of this “giant” of twentieth-century architecture and design.
The book includes an insightful introductory essay by France’s most authoritative architectural historian and critic, Jean-Louis Cohen, and incisive chapter introductions by highly regarded Le Corbusier scholar Tim Benton. A separate booklet includes translations of documents, many of which have never been translated into English before.”

For the critical architect whose always got something to say about a building.

Building Up and Tearing Down, and Why Architecture Matters; both by Paul Goldberger, who was recently on the Colbert Report. To see the interview, click here.

“The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao by Frank Gehry, the CCTV Headquarters by Rem Koolhaas, the Getty Center by Richard Meier, the Times Building by Renzo Piano: Pulitzer Prize–winning critic Paul Goldberger’s tenure at The New Yorker has documented a captivating era in the world of architecture, one in which larger-than-life buildings, urban schemes, historic preservation battles, and personalities have commanded an international stage. Goldberger’s keen observations and sharp wit make him one of the most insightful and passionate architectural voices of our time. In this collection of fifty-seven essays, the critic Tracy Kidder called “America’s foremost interpreter of public architecture” ranges from Havana to Beijing, from Chicago to Las Vegas, dissecting everything from skyscrapers by Norman Foster and museums by Tadao Ando to airports, monuments, suburban shopping malls, and white-brick apartment houses. This is a comprehensive account of the best—and the worst—of the “age of architecture.””

book description of “Building Up and Tearing Down” from Random House Inc.

Based on decades of looking at buildings and thinking about how we experience them, the distinguished critic raises our awareness of fundamental things like proportion, scale, space, texture, materials, shapes, light, and memory. Upon completing this remarkable architectural journey, readers will enjoy a wonderfully rewarding new way of seeing and experiencing every aspect of the built world.”

book description of “Why Architecture Matters” from Yale University Press


Architects love to watch and learn things so why not get them a documentary of a famous architect?

The PBS documentary of Frank Lloyd Wright by Ken Burns and we all know Mr. Burns produces highly acclaimed documentaries. To learn more about the documentary, click here.

A great documentary on the Spanish architect Antonio Guadí by Japanese director Hiroshi Teshigahara.

Synopsis from Criterion Films,
“Catalan architect Antonio Gaudí (1852–1926) designed some of the world’s most astonishing buildings, interiors, and parks; Japanese director Hiroshi Teshigahara constructed some of the most aesthetically audacious films ever made. Here their artistry melds in a unique, enthralling cinematic experience. Less a documentary than a visual poem, Teshigahara’s Antonio Gaudí takes viewers on a tour of Gaudí’s truly spectacular architecture, including his massive, still-unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona. With camera work as bold and sensual as the curves of his subject’s organic structures, Teshigahara immortalizes Gaudí on film.”

For the architect who likes to be entertained, here are some movie suggestions.

The International starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts. One of the customer reviews for this movie commented that the movie is stylish and featured great architecture.

The Fountainhead (the movie) starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal. The screenplay was adapted and written by the original author, Ayn Rand.


For the architect who likes to stay abreast of the latest trends in architecture, design, construction, and technology; magazines are a way to go and will be greatly appreciated. Just as there are a variety of specialist architects in the field, there is a magazine that fits their interest equally. Here is a list of architecture magazine compiled on Wikipedia that is sure to please any architect happy.


The Architect is never without his/her own set of tools that distinguishes them from another architect. It’s a competitive world out there and the Architect is always looking for ways to stand out from the rest just as they do with their designs. Here is a list of tools you may want to consider to stuff the stocking of the Architect.

The Architect always needs something to draw, write, and scribble with so why not get him or her a nice mechanical pencil like the Pentel Sharp Kerry, which is available in many colors.

Another option for a mechanical pencil is the LAMY scribble; Model 185(3,15).

For sketching, it has a thick 3.15 mm lead and a removable clip.
Mechanical pencil with distinctive ergonomic form. Matt black plastic, fittings in a palladium finish.
Clutch mechanism with 3.15 (LAMY M 43) sketching lead.
Designer: Hannes Wettstein

– description from LAMY scribble

You can’t give the Architect just a mechanical pencil; pair it up with a sketchbook. I saw this while I was in Barnes & Noble. These books are by ecosystem. The colors caught my eye and then I noticed that there are different books for different types of people. There is one for the artist, the writer, the organizer, and the Architect. And the Architect’s sketchbook is bound with graph paper? When I saw that, I was like, “Really?” I don’t know any architect who uses graph paper sketch books.

e•co sys•tem ar•chi•tect [ek-oh sis-tem ahr-ki-tekt]

An environmentally aware person who creates strength and order with lines.

Because you are structured, expressive, and ordered, each ecosystem architect item features grid paper so you can continue as an environmentally aware person who creates strength and order with lines. The 100% post-consumer recycled paper features a perfect grid for your planning.

I personally prefer sketchbooks by Moleskin. They come in a variety of sizes and covers. I like the ones that come three in a pack; perfect for traveling and to quickly jot down notes. Moleskin is currently offering a limited edition sketchbook for the Architect called La Mano Dell’Architetto.

“The Hand of the Architect (La Mano Dell’Architetto) is a limited edition Moleskine book filled with drawings from 110 internationally renowned architects. The compilation is a tribute to Piero Portaluppi, who in 1932 designed Villa Necchi Campiglio, located in the heart of Milan. The participating architects donated a total of 378 signed sketches. These were then exhibited in Milan and auctioned to raise funds for the maintenance of Villa Necchi Campiglio, which is now open to the public.

Get a glimpse into the sketchbooks of visionaries like Michael Graves, Zaha Hadid, Piero Lissoni, Kengo Kumo, Mario Botta, Tadao Ando, and many more. From whimsical to philosophical, simple sketches to elaborate renderings, the images in this book are a source of inspiration that will make you think, smile, and create.

Then, capture your own ideas with the companion special edition blank journal – this set includes the hardcover 272 page Moleskine Folio filled with architectural sketches, and an A4 Cahier with 120 blank pages for you to fill up!”

-description from Moleskin


We all know that architecture is a high stress profession, and as a result, many architects like to unwind with a drink , or two, or three, or more. Why not treat them to a nice bottle of gin like DH Krahn gin.

If drinking isn’t a good idea for that architect you know (because there are lots out there who are alcoholics), how about a session with a therapist to help the architect you know work out their professional stresses, or career goals, or addictions (i.e. alcohol). Why not try an outdoor counseling sessions in Manhattan with Clay Cockrell; taking therapy off the couch? He’s been featured on Good Morning America, The Wall Street Journal, and AM New York; to name a few. For more information click here.

And how about for those architects who are just anal retentive? They need to loosen up and relax and not take work so seriously. Why not get them a gift certificate to a spa for a relaxing massage? Great Jones Spa is a great place to retreat and relax. I highly recommend the 90 minute massages; it will be greatly appreciated. Not only that will the architect enjoy a wonderful massage but they will also have access to the water lounge, which includes river rock sauna, chakra-light steam, thermal hot tub, and cold plunge.

For the young person who aspires to be a great architect, get him/her started on their first Lego Architecture products like building Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water.

Lego offers other products in their Architect series as well as their Landmark series.  Visit your local toy store or go to to see what other incredible products are available for the young architect.

Happy Shopping!